Plage de la Palud is located in Port Cros National Park (the oldest National Marine Park in the Mediterranean, first opened in 1963) and is one of the top snorkeling spots on the Mediterranean coast. Hundreds of relatively sociable fish, who have long been used to human presence, crisscross the calm, crystal-clear waters. Visitors can also explore the diversity of the marine world thanks to the snorkel trail that has been laid down in the bay. It is one of the very rare spots in France where you can spot brown meagre and dusky grouper at snorkeling depth.

How to get there?

Visitors arrive in Port Cros mainly from Hyères. 5 to 15 trips (depending on the period of the year) are run every day from the Port of Hyères/Port Saint-Pierre. An adult round-trip ticket costs €28.10 per person. You can also get to Port Cros from Ile de Porquerolles or Le Lavandou. The TLV-TVM company takes care of public transport towards the island (see here for details). When you arrive in Port Cros, you need to walk north for about 40 minutes to reach Plage de la Palud. The path is shaded but stony (wear some good shoes), and well marked out.

Gilt-head bream at Plage de la Palud, Port Cros

Water entrance

Once at the beach, you will have no trouble locating the snorkeling spot, which is marked out by two lines of buoys extending as far as the Rocher du Rascas (the small island you can see across from the beach). Get into the water wherever you wish inside the swimming area.

Plage de la Palud snorkeling map, Port Cros National Park

Exploration

The area to explore is triangular in shape and covers the seabeds between the beach and the Rocher du Rascas. You can leave this area and explore the areas near the Rocher du Rascas, but you should signal your presence.

The easiest and most enjoyable way to explore the spot is to follow the underwater path that has been laid down in the bay and is shown by six yellow buoys. Each buoy indicates a particular environment (a sandy seabed, a posidonia seagrass bed, a rocky rift, rocks beaten by the waves, etc.) and includes an information notice to be read underwater.

Two-banded seabream and rainbow wrasse at Plage de la Palud

The most interesting environments are probably the Neptune grass seabeds. Large shoals (20 to 40 fish) of salema porgy are found here, as well as sea bream, several species of sargo, and East Atlantic peacock wrasses. But in the rocky areas it is easier to come across the highly colorful Mediterranean rainbow wrasse and ornate wrasse, and the painted comber. Explore the small crevices to find a red starfish, which are quite common in this spot.

In the northwestern tip of the swimming area marked with buoys (close to Rocher du Rascas), you may also spot dusky groupers and brown meagre, two iconic mediterranean species almost impossible to see elsewhere in France. You’ll mostly find these two fantastic fish in the vicinity of caves or large crevices where they can shelter. Have a look under the rocks, 2 to 4 meters deep.

Dusky grouper at Plage de la Palud, Port Cros National Park

It is easy to observe and get close to the fish. Since you will certainly spend more time in the water than scheduled, don’t forget your rash guard to keep out the cold outside the hot summer months. Lastly, watch out for other visitors, as the spot is very popular, particularly with school groups.

Restaurants & accommodation

There are no restaurants or accommodation on site. In the village, a 40-minute walk away by the shortest path, you will find several restaurants.

Species you may spot while snorkeling Plage de la Palud
COMMON NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME ABUNDANCE FISHBASE WIKIPEDIA
Gilt-head bream Sparus aurata  
Mediterranean rainbow wrasse Coris julis  
Ornate wrasse Thalassoma pavo  
Sargo Diplodus sargus  
Common two-banded seabream Diplodus vulgaris  
Sharpsnout seabream Diplodus puntazzo  
Salema porgy Sarpa salpa  
East Atlantic peacock wrasse Symphodus tinca  
Thicklip grey mullet Chelon labrosus  
Saddled seabream Oblada melanura  
Greater amberjack Seriola dumerili  
Painted comber Serranus scriba  
Neptune grass Posidonia oceanica  
Red starfish Echinaster sepositus  
Purple jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca  
Dusky grouper Epinephelus marginatus  
Brown meagre Sciaena umbra  
Common octopus Octopus vulgaris  
Common cuttlefish Sepia officinalis  

 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaParc National de Port Cros
  • Maximum depth25ft/8m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersUsual precautions
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

This reference identification guide includes all the 860 marine fish species that may be encountered while snorkeling in coastal Western Europe and the Mediterranean.

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.